Coaching Writers and Seizing Joy

Our new barn.

I’ve been sitting here for a half an hour, staring out the window at the weeping cheering on our drive and the holly across the way at the Lohr farm.  I’m just sitting and staring . . . and feeling very, very full and content and whole in a way I have not for a while now.

Yesterday, I had the honor of leading a writing retreat at a friend’s beautiful farmstead in Boiling Springs, PA.  9 of us sat in her living room and shared stories and frustrations and doubts and fears.  At least 3 of us cried, including me. At the end of the day, if I was reading the loosened jaws, the bright eyes, and the tired postures correctly, we poured ourselves out and found ourselves filled up a bit there.  I pray the participants walked away with something they can take hope and purpose in; I know I did.

Okay, I have to stop here.  I have just spent the last 20 minutes rewriting this paragraph because, well, I feel some sort of shame and misplaced pride in saying this . . . but I need to say it. . . I like leading retreats for writers, and honestly, I think I’m kind of good at it.   I feel all my training, all my passion, all my experience coming together in those conversations, and when I walk away, I feel almost delirious with the kind of joy that only comes when we let all of ourselves out into the world.

But something in me says that I’m bragging there, being prideful, taking credit for something that is not mine to take credit for. Something makes me think I’m delusional, that the people in the retreats I run do not get anything at all from what I’ve done, that they leave with the feeling that they wasted a whole day. That voice, of course, is the one that shouts mostly loudly when I’ve done something risky and vulnerable and true to myself.  Like lead a retreat. . . or write a blog post about it.

Still, here is what I know – when I drove home from Pennsylvania yesterday, I was fairly glowing with joy.  I spent the first two hours in gleeful remembering, reviewing conversations and even things I said that spoke more truth than I knew I understood.  Then, I turned on the radio and bopped along to Mariah Carey and Third Eye Blind, so overjoyed that I honestly thought my fever might have spiked again.

Now, though, in the quiet aftermath of the joy delirium, I still feel it, trembling with light at the core of me.  And oh, does that feel good!

I am enthused and filled up with passion for the workshops and retreats we have coming up here on the farm, and I am excited about the opportunity to learn and to share a little bit of what I have learned with the people who come here.

Last night, when I pulled in the driveway, my headlights raked the new barn – the space we have built for many things – but particularly for retreats and concerts.  If I could have made Trapper the Subaru do a backflip, I would have.  My joy was that complete.

May you live into all that gives you joy today – without shame, without guilt, without false humility – because you are made to be joyful and full and delighted in who you are.